A close-up of shadowy arches in Trinity Church

Five Ways Into Sunday’s Scripture: In the Borderlands

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

Luke 17:11–19

In this Gospel passage, Jesus is in the “borderlands” between Samaria and Galilee — a place not quite here or there. Perhaps that is why Jesus encounters ten lepers. Suffering from a terrible disease and isolated from society, this is the only place they can live. Jesus doesn’t heal them there but tells them to show themselves to the priests. It is only when they are in transit (or “on their way”) that the lepers find themselves healed. 

Everything about this scene is outside the norm: the liminal place, the unclean group of people that includes a Samaritan — the ultimate outsider for the Jewish community. Yet again, Jesus spends time with and heals those on the margins. And yet again, an outsider recognizes Jesus, understands Jesus’s healing as a gift, and, despite Jesus’s command to go to the priest, returns to Jesus to thank and praise him. When the Samaritan former-leper turns back to thank Jesus, the place and the person are transformed into a space of healing and wholeness.

We all have times in our lives when we feel like we’re in the wilderness and connection to community seems remote. Jesus can heal us in these times, and we can show our gratitude for this gift by offering this same love and healing to others.

—Ruth Frey

Audrey West notes, “The good news of this encounter carries with it the promise that through Jesus, God empowers people to step across boundaries.”

There are marginalized people in our world just as there were in biblical times. Are we willing to cross borders to bring healing?

This painting by artist Brian Whelan entitled “The Exultant Leper” was commissioned in 2021 by Les Smith, a member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Don’t miss this heart-expanding video of Les talking about the painting. 

An inspirational video entitled “Gratitude” by Mantragold.

In “The Thing Is,” Ellen Bass allows us to imagine what it was like to be a leper (“How can a body withstand this?”), and what the healing love of Jesus feels like.

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Saturdays, October 8 and 29 | 9am
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Sunday, October 9 | 10am
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The Rev. Pauli Murray had a profound impact on the judicial system and racial equity in this country. Join Barbara Lau, Executive Director of the Pauli Murray Center, to learn about Murray’s life and legacy.

Monday, October 10 | 6pm
Environmental Justice Group Meeting
To honor Indigenous Peoples' Day, view Shinnecock: 12 thousand years in the making and hear comments by filmmaker and Shinnecock enrolled tribal leader Janine Tinsley-Roe.

Sundays, October 23–November 20 | 10am
Discovery: Creation, EarthCare and Environmental Justice
The Bible has a lot to say about our interconnectedness to Creation and stewardship of the earth. Learn more in this series with Summerlee Staten, Executive Director of Trinity’s Faith Formation and Education department, Dr. Ellen Davis of Duke University Divinity School, and eco-philsopher Lyanda Haupt.

Sunday, October 23 | 1–3pm
Trinity Talks: Makoto Fujimura
Makoto Fujimura is a leading contemporary artist who creates process-driven, refractive “slow art.” Author of Art+Faith: A Theology of Making, Fujimura is an arts advocate, speaker, and theologian recognized worldwide as a cultural influencer. He will join the Rev. Phillip Jackson for a conversation about how the act of creativity helps us heal, be in relationship with one another, and build a more just world.